Cassopolis Middle School installs water filling station with MEC grant

CASSOPOLIS — Students at Cassopolis Middle School are keeping it cool and hydrated thanks to a newly installed water bottle filling station.

This week, Cassopolis Middle School installed the station and gifted water bottles to each student from sixth to eighth grade. The development was possible thanks to a Strengthening Schools grant awarded to the school by Midwest Energy and Communications.

“We are really grateful for the grant,” said Cassopolis Middle School Principal Carey May. “It’s phenomenal.”

MEC announced the winners of its annual Strengthening Schools grant in February. Grants are funded with partnership dollars from Wolverine Power Cooperative, MEC’s power supplier. MEC launched the Strengthening Schools grant program in 2013 to help public school teachers reach their students in new and exciting ways. Since 2013, the co-op has awarded 219 grants totaling $270,768.10.

In addition to the water filling station, a Cassopolis Middle School staff member was awarded the funds to complete a train-the-trainer teacher certification for districtwide crisis prevention and intervention. The staff member, Lisa Phillips, will begin training staff districtwide on crisis prevention and de-escalation techniques this Friday.

In total, Cassopolis Middle School was awarded more than $3,000 for the two grants.

“I owe it all to the teachers who put in the grants for our team,” May said. “We have an amazing team, and they are always doing what is best for our students. They saw these opportunities, took them, and we were blessed enough to be awarded these grants.”

The water bottle filling station started as a pitch from Sarah Crowe’s eighth-grade science class.

“The kids decided they wanted to do the water bottle filling station because this is our first year in this building, and we didn’t have a lot of access to water, especially as the drinking fountains have been closed due to COVID,” Crowe said. “This was a need that they saw, and the kids decided everyone would benefit from the water filling station. We want them to know the importance of staying hydrated, so this is one way to get them excited about it.”

The students helped write and submit the grant. Once the school received the funds, the students and staff decided to use the left-over money to provide students with water bottles to use at the station.

Crowe said she was happy to work with students on the project.

“This is their school, and it helps them have ownership over the school and the things that we do and provide for them,” she said. “They are the ones who know what they need and what will improve their environment. It was definitely important to have them involved.”

Already both Crowe and May said students are going “crazy” over the new filling station. A counter on the station keeps track of how many plastic water bottles are saved by using it to refill reusable water bottles. By the end of the first day, the counter tracked nearly 150 bottles saved.

“That’s crazy,” May said. “We are all just really excited about this.”

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